Skip to content Skip to navigation

Media Mission for a Forest Minister

It may be vital for many to save the endangered rhinos in Assam's celebrated parks, but for a section of the media in the Northeast, it is seemingly more important to safeguard Assam's Forest Minister.

The rhino horn is prized as an aphrodisiac and a cure for many ills in traditional oriental medicine, selling for thousands of dollars per kilogram — hence the demand. Kaziranga National Park director Suren Buragohain argues all the time: ''The poachers are equipped with sophisticated weapons. But our forest guards lack the proper arms to counter them''. Incidentally, Buragohain earns brickbats from the wildlife lovers as statistics reveal that during his term, Kaziranga has lost the highest number of rhinos in a decade.

As the director was clueless about the grave threats of rhino poaching in Kaziranga, the State Forest Minister showed an equally insensitive and callous approach to the issue, all the time preferring to ignore the matter. It finally compelled the All Assam Students' Union (AASU) to take up the cause. AASU activists staged demonstrations on February 2 in front of the forest offices in all parts of Assam to protest against the authority's ''for failing to take adequate steps to stop this heinous crime against a national treasure''.

Addressing the scribes at Guwahati Press Club on February 4, Soumyadeep Datta, director of Nature's Beckon, argued that the Forest Department of Assam had not preserved the rhino horns (with ivory and other wildlife organs) in their custody. Nature's Beckon received some vital information (regarding the number of rhino horns and other precious wildlife organs) from the Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) of Assam after exercising the Right to Information Act, 2005. CCF (Wildlife) MC Malakar informed that only 1,498 horns were being preserved in the custody of the Forest Department till date, a claim many deem false. He revealed, ''We have authentic information that till 1972 , Assam's Forest Department used to sell the rhino horns. We suspect the department continued to sell rhino horns even after 1972, the year the Government of India prohibited hunting of wildlife and their trade by enacting laws.''

Poaching is a punishable offence in India with seven years of imprisonment. India is a party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) since 1976, and hence it is bound by efforts to eliminate international trade in wildlife and wildlife parts.

But the hue and cry of the concerned people of the region was not taken into consideration by a section of news agency reporters in Guwahati, who continued reporting the version of the Forest Minister. Taking his cue from the last incidence of rhino killing at Kaziranga on February 5, one senior reporter went to such extent of reporting where he described the Forest Minister as seeking a CBI enquiry into the matter. The New Delhi-based news agency, IANS, on February 5 (contributed by a Guwahati-based reporter), quoted Assam's Forest and Environment Minister Rockybul Hussain as saying: ''We want a CBI to investigate the sudden increase in rhino poaching incidents at Kaziranga.''

The question arises as to whether a journalist (or an agency) should ignore other developments in a particular situation, and whether a minister seeking an enquiry into the ministry under his charge does not point to his own incompetence. Surprisingly, the reporter missed these vital points and parroted the version of the Forest Minister, perhaps because of his ignorance. But, in reality, the minister expressed his version as ''we have no reservation against a CBI enquiry into the matter of increasing cases of rhino poaching'' in Kaziranga. Facing the heat, the Forest Minister also rushed to Kaziranga on February 6 to take stock of the situation.

A second story was differently headlined, but said the same thing. Neither reported what PTI did: ''The All Assam Student's Union (AASU) on Saturday (February 2) staged a State-wide dharna to protest against the State Government's alleged failure in checking rhino killing by poachers in the Kaziranga National Park…'' One of the stories carried by IANS never mentioned that actually an environment-centric NGO had demanded a CBI enquiry into the matter much earlier than the Forest Minister.

Likewise, the Guwahati-based reporter of AP tried to paint a rosy picture of Rockybul Hussain, while narrating that the authorities at Kaziranga deployed 100 armed guards to check the poachers. He quoted the minister as saying: ''We are alarmed at the seemingly organized poaching by gangs at the Kaziranga National Park.'' He also added in the February 6 news, ''We have decided to rush 100 armed guards to Kaziranga and to equip the existing forest guards with 200 better rifles to match weapons used by the poachers.'' In reality, the news depicted the Forest Minister in such a way that nobody needs to worry about the poaching of rhinos when Rockybul Hussain is at the helm of forest affairs in Assam!

Amazingly, the news agency AP, based in New York, avoided the public fury against the Forest Department as well as the Forest Minister rather very shrewdly. As for the particular news item, released by AP and subscribed by a number of international media outlets, a serious reader may find it as a cleverly moulded piece by an experienced (and loyal) public relations official on behalf of his master! Well, if a journalist turns into a PR personnel in his approach, even a child in today's world can understand that it is not without personal gain or vested interest. A legitimate question that might arise here is whether a reporter has the right (under the Indian constitutional provision) to project a development with his own personal point of view that could even degrade the entire episode of saving the endangered rhinos just to safeguard Assam's Forest Minister.

Comments

prarthana Gogoi's picture

Undoubtedly it is a sensitive topic and sensitive, reasonable cry of Mr Thakuria, Nature’s Bacon & ASSU. Mr Thakuria is analyzing logically the report of the vested interest. But all protest should not end after the hue and cry. Thanks to Mr Thakuria for his protest in pen and paper. Why not all media of Assam (including the national and international news agency) fight against this tragedy of Kaziranga?

Pages

Add new comment

Random Stories

KLO observes martyrs day

27 Dec 2016 - 12:58pm | AT Kokrajhar Bureau
The Kamatapur Liberation Organisation(KLO) observed martyrs day on Monday at United Base Camp at an undisclosed location,recalled and paid homage to those heroes who have sacrificed their valuable...

Fight globalization of indifference with service: Basanes

11 May 2016 - 10:57pm | CM Paul
As a follow up on his talk to post graduate students on ‘globalization of solidarity’ during his first visit to Assam Don Bosco University (ADBU) two years ago, the head of Don Bosco Missions...

EMFA condemns assaults on media persons

1 Mar 2014 - 10:07am | Paragmoni Aditya
Electronic Media Forum Assam (EMFA) has condemned the unprovoked attacks on some media persons representing different news channels at Kalaigaon of Darang district on Friday. Mentionable is that...

First monsoon rainfall revives tea gardens

20 Feb 2017 - 7:20pm | Robertson Tanti
After a lapse of long period the first monsoon rainfall has brought the fresh leased life to all the small tea growers of Udalguri district. The burgeoning green leaf in their tea garden on receiving...

Other Contents by Author

The employees of Natun Dainik, an influential Assamese daily newspaper of yesteryears, will remember its founder editor Chandra Prasad Saikia (popularly known as CPS) on August 8 in Guwahati Press Club starting at 3 pm. The journalists, who were involved with the daily during the tenure of Padma Bhusan CP Saikia as its editor, have taken the initiative to commemorate the illustrious journalist and award winning author on his 8th death anniversary. Published from Chandarakanta Press private limited in Guwahati, Natun Dainik was pioneer in adopting latest printing technology and vivid content with illustrated supplement pages on various relevant issues. The newspaper used PTS printing method...
All Assam Media Employees Federation (AAMEF) has welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s views on avoiding a huge group of journalists while on foreign trips arguing that it serves little purposes. Rather, the umbrella body of different journalist units in Assam demands, Modi should take personal interest to provide due benefits to millions of working journalists and media employees of the country. “We come to know that Prime Minister Modi has recently disclosed about his decision to avoid a bigger group of journalists to accompany him in the foreign trips. He categorically stated that in a new age journalism today, it hardly matters where the media persons are located in respect of...
Veteran actor-director Abdul Majid will attend the Guest of the Month program of Guwahati Press Club (GPC) on June 16 (Monday). The interactive session with the journalists will start at 3 pm. Majid was born in Jorhat in 1931 and he started his carrier in theatres in 1950 at his home town. Till date, he has performed in over two hundred plays staged in different parts of eastern India. Majid started his career in celluloid through ‘Ronga Police’ in 1957. He has also directed several movies including ‘Maram Trishna’, ‘Chameli Memsaab’, ‘Banahangsha’, ‘Bonjui’, ‘Ponakon’, ‘Uttarkaal’. Chameli Memsaab, for which Dr Bhupen Hazarika won the national award for music direction, was awarded with...
Journalists’ Forum Assam (JFA) has expressed deep shock at the sudden demise of Ahir Bhairab Borthakur, a city based young journalist, who expired Tuesday morning in a city hospital.Started his career as a column writer to many newspapers, Ahir later used to work for New Delhi based Down To Earth magazine. He also worked as a content development and screenplay writer for various media outlets.Some other publications where he was involved include RAVE, Billboard, Incredible India magazine, HolidayIQ, etc. A graduate with Masters in Geography, Ahir did his post graduation in Journalism from New Delhi YMCA.At the time of his demise, Ahir, 39, was working for Ne Hi-fi (Focus TV Group) as a...
A fortnightly Assamese news magazine named Pasekhia Prekshan was launched today in Guwahati Press Club. The first issue of the news magazine was inaugurated by Nava Thakuria, a city based journalist. Published by Bitopan Das, the news magazine is edited by Nataraj Das, Utpal Das and Anup Talukdar. The market price for the issue of Prekshan is fixed at rupees twelve. The inaugural function was also graced by Mukul Kalita, editor of Adinor Sangbad, Mubina Akhter and Pulin Saha, both are city based journalists.
Most of the journalists who attended the body-fat check-up camp for scribes in Guwahati Press Club today (Wednesday) diagnosed with preliminary obesity problems.Organized by Wellness Centre, Guwahati the camp witnessed nearly 100 media persons' participation in the camp. While the male journalists were diagnosed with overweight, most of the female scribes were reported under weight.SN Dutta, nutrition and weight management consultant supervised the camp, where visceral fat, sub-cutaneous fat, muscle mass, body metabolic age, body mass index etc were also examined.
As the nation prepares for the next general election, Journalists' Forum Assam (JFA) has urged all political parties to show their sincerity towards the implementation of various welfare schemes to media persons engaged in both print & electronic media. The Assam based scribes' body also insisted on enrolling a special protection laws for journalists on duty in the election manifestos of all political parties.Expressing grave concern over helpless working condition of media persons, particularly the private television journalists of northeast India, the JFA has urged both the Indian Union labour ministry and province governments of the alienated region to look into the matter. The forum...
A free health camp on manual therapy and pain relief for media persons was organized at Guwahati Press Club today by Indian Association of Physiotherapists (IAP) and College of Physiotherapy & Medical Sciences (CPMS), Guwahati. Over 50 journalists participated in the camp that started at 10 am. Most of the participants diagnosed with continuous pain in neck and back. The camp, conducted under the leadership of IAP president Dr Uma Shankar Mohanty and CPMS principal Dr Ujjal Bhattacharya with physiotherapists Dr Munmun Singha & Dr Kundan Kumar, concluded by 2 pm.
A free health camp on manual therapy and pain relief for media persons has been organized at Guwahati Press Club on March 9 (Sunday). The camp, to be conducted under the leadership of Dr Uma Shankar Mohanty, president of Manual Therapy Foundation of India, will begin at 10 am and conclude by 2 pm. Member-journalists are requested to participate in the physiotherapy camp.
Padma Shree Dr. Sarbeswar Sahariah, MS, MAMS, FICS, FACS will attend the next 'Guest of the Month' programme of Guwahati Press Club (GPC) on 4th March 2014. The interactive session will start at 2 pm.Hails from Mangaldoi in central Assam and presently based in Hyderabad of Andhra Pradesh, Dr. Sahariah has performed more than 3000 renal transplant operations which may be a record for a surgeon in India. He has recently started a charitable organization tiled North East Care Foundation along with free medical clinic and dispensary at Pachim Baragaon of Guwahati for the benefit of weaker sections in the society.Dr. Sahariah, who has attended a number of conferences held in Singapore, Taipei,...